Book number: 91773 Product format: Hardback Author: CHARLIE CONNELLY

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Bibliophile price £5.50
Published price £16.99

The symbolism of the English Channel goes way beyond a simple role as a conduit for shipping, trawling and the odd lard-and-lanolin-slathered maniac in goggles and swimming trunks plunging in and making for the other side. It has made us believe we are more separate than we are thanks to 'that strip of sea which severs merry England from the tardy realms of Europe - as the Church and State Review put it in 1863.' A bulwark of invasion, a conduit for exchange and a challenge to be conquered, the Channel has always been many things to many people. Today it's the busiest shipping lane in the world and hosts more than 30 million passenger crossings every year, but this slither of choppy brine, just 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, represents much more than a conductor of goods and people. Charlie Connelly collects its stories and brings them to life from tailing Oscar Wilde's shadow through the dark streets of Dieppe, to unearthing Britain's first beauty pageant at the end of Folkestone Pier, won by a chap called Wally! We uncover the fate of the first successful Channel swimmer, learn that Louis Blériot was actually a terrible pilot and discover how, if a man with a buttered head and pigs' bladders attached to his trousers hadn't fought off an attack by dogfish, we might never have had a Channel Tunnel. Here is a cast of extraordinary characters - cheats, dreamers, charlatans, geniuses, visionaries, eccentrics and at least one pair of naked, cuddling balloonists - whose stories are all united by the English Channel to ensure the sea that makes us an island will never be the same again. 297pp.

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ISBN 9781474607919

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